SOLD FOR: $2525
Model: Detective Special
Serial Number: B09967
Year of Manufacture: 1970, (COLT Serial Number Database)
Caliber: .38 Special
Action Type: DA/SA Double and Single Action 6-Shot Revolver with Swing-Out Cylinder
Markings: The left side of the barrel is marked “DETECTIVE SPEC. / .38 SPECIAL CTG.”, the right is marked “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. / HARTFORD, CONN. U.S.A.” The side plate has the Rampant Colt logo at the center. The left of the trigger guard is marked with a large “P” at the front, and the rear is marked with an “L”. The crane and cut are marked with the serial number, “B09967”. The inside of each grip panel has “967” hand-written in white. The backstrap is marked “U.S” toward the bottom.
Barrel Length: 2”
Sights/Optics: The front sight is a serrated ramped blade fixed to the top of the barrel. The rear sight is a square-notch integral to the topstrap. The upper edges of the top strap are serrated to reduce glare.
Stock Configuration and Condition: The grips are two-piece checkered walnut panels with silver-colored Colt medallions. The grips have some scattered light nicks and scuffs with a few more notable compressions in the left panel. The checkering is generally well defined. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips are in Very Good condition.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is bright and the rifling is sharp. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 94% of its metal finish. There are several scattered minor nicks, scuffs and scratches with a few more notable nicks and scratches on the right of the barrel and frame. The action shows minor operational wear including a thin, light turn-line on the cylinder. The unfinished side faces of the hammer have minor discoloration. The screw heads range from sharp to lightly tool marked but have strong slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this revolver rates in Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The cylinder produces solid full lockup on all six chambers. The double action trigger pull is smooth. The single action pull is crisp. We did not fire this revolver. As with all used firearms, thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance requirements.
Box, Paperwork, and Accessories: This revolver comes in a (modern) two-piece cardboard craft box with a Colt letter confirming that it shipped September 21, 1970 to Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania as one of 1,000 guns of the same type in the shipment.
Our Assessment: The Colt Detective Special was in many ways the same revolver as the Police Positive Special, except it was limited to a 2” barrel (very few were produced with 3” barrels). The Colt Detective Special and its aluminum framed cousin, the Colt Cobra, were very popular with police detectives because they held six cartridges versus the five cartridges of the Smith & Wesson Model 36. The Detective Special had a long production run, from 1927 to 1995, a testament to its popularity.
The model also saw military use in various roles such as military intelligence and plainclothes military police. Despite still having many Colt revolvers still in inventory, during the Vietnam War in 1970, the Army bought just shy of 3,000 new Detective Special revolvers, delivered to Letterkenny Army Depot. According to an article in the Summer 2009 edition of “The Rampant Colt”, fewer than 10 of these 1970 purchased revolvers have been documented in private collections. The author of this article, Kevin Williams, is best known for his exceptional work on the topic of General Officers Pistols & Clandestine Organization Pistols of WWII, and this example comes from his personal collection. This Vietnam-era U.S. Army purchased Detective Special will make a great addition to any collection, whether focused on Colts, military sidearms, or Vietnam era small arms. Good luck and happy bidding!